The list for vouchers goes live on Jan. 23.
The list for vouchers goes live on Jan. 23. Photo: AL DÍA Archives

Philly Housing Authority to reopen federal housing voucher waitlist after 12 years

The authority announced on Jan. 9 that they would be opening up their waitlist after over a decade.



After more than 12 years, Philadelphia’s low-income residents will soon have the opportunity to once again apply for federal housing vouchers. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) announced it would be clearing the waitlist and reopening it up to the public after more than a decade. The fourth-largest housing authority in the U.S. cleared its waitlist for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, giving many the opportunity to get into subsidized housing. 

“I applaud PHA for not only re-opening the waiting list, but doing so in a way that is fair and transparent,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “The Housing Choice Voucher program is an important part of Philadelphia’s commitment to providing affordable housing to all residents, and we welcome this opportunity to make more vouchers available to those in need of housing.”

PHA currently houses over 19,000 individuals, including families, with over 44,000 household members under the HCV program. Additionally, over 5,200 active landlords are under the HCV program. The wait list was closed however back in 2010 because the number of applications, over 55,000, exceeded the number of vouchers allocated to the housing authority. 

The HCV is a federal government program for helping low income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford housing in the private market. The current list is exhausted as the PHA will open the list by accepting online applications at from Mon., Jan. 23 at 6:00 a.m. to Sun., Feb. 5 at 5:59 p.m.

“Getting the word out is a top priority since previous applications periods favored those who applied first. Under this system, all applications in the lottery pool have an equal chance of being selected.” said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. 

“Going forward, this process will allow PHA to open the HCV waiting list more frequently, providing others in the community a chance to apply in just a few years when the waiting list is re-opened,” he added. 

After the window closes, 10,000 applicants will be randomly chosen in a computerized lottery system to be placed on the waiting list. Applicants living, working, or have been recently hired to work in Philly, will get a preference. PHA will also make 2,000 vouchers immediately available to those within the group that qualify. 

PHA will notify, by March 1, the 10,000 applicants who were selected and those not selected. 2,000 vouchers will be made available to the selected waiting list applicants. While the PHA pulls applicants from the waiting list, each household will be evaluated for eligibility before being given a voucher. 

Despite Monday’s announcement being one of celebration, more needs to be done to address the city’s affordable housing crisis.

“Please, please let Congress know, including those folks on the other side, and President Biden that we’re still expecting a whole lot more in terms of funding,” PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said, in a comment directed toward U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, who attended the news conference.

Another task to tackle is getting more landlords to get involved with the HCV program, even going as far as to create incentives for them. 

The housing authority initially created an incentive program in June 2021, that was due to expire this past December but was extended through the end of June 2023. 

Property owners can request a per-unit signing bonus of $300, and for landlords in an “opportunity area,” higher-income areas with better amenities, can get a $1,000 payment. 

It also includes an insurance fund that pays landlords up to $2,500 on top of the security deposit to repair damages to the unit after a tenant has moved out. 

To qualify, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines, a single person cannot make more than $36,900 a year, and the limit for a family of four is $52,700.

And to make sure no one is left behind, the application will be in English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, and Russian. Anyone with questions or without internet access can call 215-999-3102. 


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